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Deepening isolation of Central Asia.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- The Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union -- Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- are geographically part of Asia.

Due to the past of tsarist Russia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), they are part of Europe in political, economic and cultural terms. Since the disintegration of the USSR, Europeanness has started to decline in the Central Asian republics. Central Asia's economic ties with Asian countries -- China, South Korea and Japan -- have been gaining momentum. In Central Asia, the urban population migrated to Russia and villagers moved to cities. The Russian population and the use of Russian decreased.

As the Kremlin dumped the socialist ideology and adopted Russian and Orthodox nationalism in its place, Russia's geopolitical impact around the world, particularly in the former Soviet Union republics, waned. The Soviet Union had been a country with universal impact until its disintegration in December 1991. In comparison, Russia emerged only as an expanded regional power although its land covered around one-sixth of the world geography. The Kremlin does not believe in Eurasianism although it promotes it. The political and bureaucratic elites in Moscow, especially President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, are from the St. Petersburg school, which since tsarist Russia has defined Russians as Europeans and champions Russia's integration with Europe. Today, Russians in the European part of the country define themselves as Russians and Europeans. Russia is like a train traveling towards the West. It is meaningless to set Eurasia as a target while you are aboard that train. Likewise, it is ludicrous to run towards the East on a train heading for the West. The priorities of the Asian part of Russia are becoming increasingly different. The convergence with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, South Korea and Japan is on the rise.

The enlargement of the European Union has stopped. The EU is not considering enlargement even into Southeast Europe -- the Balkans. The neighborhood policy has been shelved. Due to the disappearance of the USSR as an umbrella as well as the West's failure to support the Central Asian republics, the political fragility of Central Asia increases. This, in turn, augments the possibility of instability. Central Asia is in greater peril than Ukraine. The EU, the US, and the Russian Federation show interest in Ukraine. So it is unlikely for Ukraine to be left unattended and unstable. Central Asia, on the other hand, is far from Europe. Its southern neighbors -- Afghanistan and Pakistan -- are the world's most unstable countries. If Central Asia is destabilized, who will save it? Who will take care of it? This is not clear. Central Asia may end up in a situation worse than the crisis in Syria and Iraq. The penetration of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) into Central Asia continues. Its dormant cells are on the rise. The common border between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan is extremely porous to ISIL militants. Tecen is effectively under ISIL's control. ISIL is making inroads into Central Asia via the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan and Afghanistan-Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan routes. The end of the era of former Communist Party cadres and leaders' ruling Central Asian countries in the wake of the disintegration of the Soviet Union is in sight. The governments in Central Asia that are extensions of the Communist Party are in decline. Although Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have rich oil and natural gas resources, their citizens do not benefit sufficiently from this wealth. Drug trade is becoming a major economic activity across the region. The narcotic oligarchy managed by narcotic barons constitutes the main economic and political power in Central Asia.

HASAN KANBOLAT (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:9KAZA
Date:Jun 23, 2015
Words:617
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